In Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” the capital of Hell was named Pandemonium. Milton seemed to have a sense of the future, or he described things that were timeless.
After thousands of years of societies, from cave man to the so-called modern man, one thing appears clear and that is there will always be wars and protests. The peace many fight for may be no more than hope in the hearts of people that refuse to accept the reality.
Our people, with a certain amount of grumbling by some and outright rage by others, have not galvanized around opposition to our wars, which are among the 24 presently ongoing. It is as through the silent majority is asleep, and even the more informed look at the decline of America as a movie like the “Titanic.” We seem to be accepting wars as just expected- the new normal. Or as George Orwell put it in “1984,” where everything meant the opposite- “war is peace” or “peace is war.”
The wars in foreign places are justified, with little opposition, as necessary to our security. It is better to fight in “Baghdad than Boston” or Obama’s latest, “the good war” in Afghanistan. Whatever our leaders use to pacify the people and keep them somewhat docile seems to be working. We don’t have huge anti-war demonstration, or violent protests as in Seattle, Wash., at the WTO.
Maybe the shooting of four students by National Guardsmen at Kent State and the two at Jackson have something to do with it, or rounding-up political leaders across this national campus and threatening them with criminal prosecution if they didn’t get out.
For example, on May 13, 1972, President Richard Nixon, Rev. Billy Graham and Johnny Cash appeared together. The event was nationally televised with the largest crowd Nixon had ever spoken before at the time. Nixon was a surprise guest of the Graham 10-day crusade. Critics questioned the use of state property for a religious event, and some students and faculty complained the crusade would disrupt final exams.
As put by one writer, “The country’s best-known preacher had kicked-off his Knoxville crusade days earlier at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium. But the biggest draw proved to be not the Rev. Billy Graham, or his musical guest, Johnny Cash, but Graham’s surprise guest of honor, President Richard Nixon. The president stepped onto the football field in his first appearance on a college campus since the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and the shooting of students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State. Tens of thousands of supporters jumped to their feet in applause.”
He went on, “Graham’s advent coincided with one of the worst spells of student unrest in the nation’s history. Nixon, elected on a campaign of law-and-order and of ending the war in Vietnam, had expanded the war at the start of the month by ordering the invasion of Cambodia and Laos.
“At Kent State University in Ohio, four students died after National Guardsmen fired into a crowd during a protest. Classes at UT saw about 50 percent attendance after student government leaders called for a three-day strike.”
A very small group of people held signs and were protesting the mix of politics – Nixon-religion- Graham. It’s hard to tell how anyone even noticed them more than a passing glance. I was a few rows above them sitting next to an older lady. The small group did stop me from hearing every speech, sermon or the great music of the now late Johnny Cash. Sure, there was loud applause and some jeers, but nothing disruptive. When Nixon said “we like clean air” the crowd cheered. When Nixon said “we like clean water” the crowd cheered.
Although there was no interference with the national television broadcast, pictures of the crowd near the demonstrators were taken and the University of Tennessee cooperated to identify the so-called troublemakers. They were all charged with, get this, “disrupting a religious ceremony.” They were given the choice to get off the campus or face jail.
From my travels I’ve learned these types of tactics were used across the nation.
Although the campuses, especially Berkeley, were centers for protests against certain wars, or government policy, they are no more. Some would gladly say that with their passing came a much calmer more ordered society with those that brought attention to issues and pushed changes like the end of the Vietnam War.
Where are they now – the protesters? Are they the Tea Party or Occupy D.C., or others? Is a democracy better off with the masses silenced?
We need something fast as Pandemonium takes hold around the world and we contribute to it by our wars and sales of weapons.
By D Lindley Young